St Helena Online

St Helena Online

The St Helena report and the gap in media

Constitution flaw left leaders challenging themselves

A flaw in St Helena’s constitution means senior councillors can legally be responsible for challenging their own decisions.

Last year, two “respected” executive councillors stepped down from the island’s public accounts committee, set up to monitor decision-making, when the flaw was highlighted.

Now changes have been proposed to prevent executive council members from serving on the body.

The ban is put forward in the Improving Democracy and Accountability paper, which seeks public views.

It says: “It is possible for members of the executive council, and committee chairmen, to serve on the public accounts committee – scrutinising themselves.

“Collective responsibility (and, thus, democratic accountability) seems to have been lost.”

However, the accounts committee only monitors financial aspects of decision-making. Unlike the government and councils in the UK, St Helena has no general scrutiny body, and there is no proposal to introduce one.

LINK: Improving Democracy and Accountability – consultation paper

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